In marriage, no two people are compatible

Here’s a truth that many of us ignore, even though experience has shown us this statement is absolutely true. I am reading through Tim Keller’s new book „The Meaning of Marriage” and I am finding so much wisdom and insight that I have not found in other books with the same subject matter.  Tim J. Keller, (born 1950) is an American author, speaker and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City,  starts out by repeating what thousands of couples have said to him that he spoke to or counseled, and whether they were working on sustaining or saving their marriage, most couples complained that „love should not be this hard.” Those couples seemed to believe that „love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul mates”. Here, Keller dives in and shares with us about compatibility and what the Bible has to say about it:

„The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible.”

Then Keller quotes Duke University professor Stanley Hauerwas who made this famous point:

„Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become „whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person. We never know whom we marry; we just think we do… For marriage, being [the enormous this that it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is… learning how to love and care for the stranger whom you find yourself married”. (Photo below via

Keller points out that you can’t know ahead of time how your spouse will change, until you get there and that over the years, „you will have to learn to love a person you didn’t marry” and „make changes you don’t want to make”, but in the end you may have a joyous marriage and it will definitely not be „because you married the perfectly compatible person”. Keller states, „That person does not exist!”

Keller points out that „Hauerwas gave us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage”. Then Keller gives us the biblical reason:

„Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things mean to be self-centered… Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? … the Biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage– more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world– is so painful and hard.”

(source Relevant Magazine)

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